There is a variety of products and services on the market which you can use to set up your (or someone else’s) reminders and in particular your medication reminders. However, one can roughly divide them into 3 main categories:
1. Hardware devices
These can be from simple, compartmentalized boxes to very sophisticated electronic devices. Compartmentalized pill boxes (like these https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pill_organizer) are simple plastic boxes where one can place pills in separate compartments for each day of the week and time of the day (typically morning, afternoon, and evening). These are in fact to be considered more as pill organizers rather than medication reminders. A step up in this category are electronic pill boxes, which can be seen as pill boxes with the addition of some kind of visual or audible alarm that will trigger with a given schedule. Some will even have a locking mechanism to control which compartment to open at which given day/time (http://www.medminder.com/). And some more advanced versions can be even equipped with some kind of a caregiver alerting mechanism and/or a two-way communication with a medical emergency service.
2. Smartphone Apps
There exists a plethora of smartphone Apps (paid and free) that can help you set your reminders. Some are general purpose reminders and some are more geared towards medication reminders. In this category your smartphone becomes your reminder device. Example of such Apps are medisafe and carezone. These Apps are typically more than just medication reminders, but a complete medication management system with contacts to your doctors and pharmacists and even sharing and syncing with other family members’ smartphones.
3. Telephone services
There is a few online companies that provide voice call (also referred to as VMS for voice message service) and SMS or text services as reminders. The majority are subscription based where you pay a fixed monthly fee. The subscription is typically around 10$ to 20$ depending on the number of daily reminders needed. Such services will basically either place a phone call and play your reminder message (this is the case of Memo24), or send the reminder as a text message. Most of these services will provide you with some kind of an online tool or a dashboard to set and manage your reminders. One has to keep in mind though that these services only work in a limited number of countries, so you need to make sure your country is covered before starting to use a particular service.
So what to pick …
There is no one product/solution that fits all. You have to pick the solution that best covers you needs. Here are some of the things you should consider before settling for a solution:
1. Easy of use: Some products are more advanced than others. In particular smartphone Apps can be not so easy to navigate around, and even completely unusable and inaccessible for the large majority of the elderly. In this respect, telephone services seem to be the easiest and the most “familiar” medication reminder mechanism.
2. Alert mechanism: It is always a big plus (and even a life safer in some circumstances) to chose a solution that offers some kind of an alerting mechanism to a caregiver/family member or even a two-way communication in case you (or your loved one) misses a medication reminder.
3. Accessibility and Availability: Apps are virtually accessible everywhere where you have an internet connection, however hardware devices can be only available in certain countries. As for telephone services, they too typically only cover a limited number of countries.
4. Price: Pricing models widely differ from one category to another and even within products in the same category. For example, hardware devices are usually a one time payment, whereas telephone services are often subscription based, i.e. you pay for a fixed monthly plan fee. Memo24, however, has adopted a pay-as-you-go (or pay-per-use) pricing model.
5. Reporting: Keeping a history of your medication compliance is very important. Such historical records show when and what medication you took (or did not take). Most smartphone Apps come with such a feature. Most hardware devices (except for the high end/expensive models), on the other hand, do not provide such a feature. As for the telephone services, as long as they have some kind of an online dashboard, they will almost certainly provide such a feature.